BMW 530e M Sport Saloon review

Back in February 2020 we reviewed the BMW 530e but since then the Munich car maker has updated the 5 Series. We test drive the 530e M Sport Saloon to see if the revisions have made an improvement.

At first glance

Continuing its long legacy of delivering a premium driving experience with a broad range of aptitudes, the latest round of updates for the 5 Series includes tweaked styling, updated technology and new flagship models including the 545e plug-in hybrid. We get behind the wheel of the 530e M Sport Saloon which went on sale in July to see if they've made much of a difference.

What’s different?

For starters there are a few changes to the exterior styling with the facelifted Five benefitting from a larger kidney grille and slimmer headlight design that incorporates U-shaped daytime driving lights up front, and a redesigned apron and tailpipe finishers out back. The rear lights now have a smoked two-tone finish while the saloon models get a new rear diffuser.

And the technology updates?

While the interior has escaped the design team’s attention there is a new infotainment system which has increased in size from 10.25 to 12.3 inches and is powered by BMW’s latest Operating System 7.0 – so expect clearer graphics, quicker loading times and better connectivity. Smartphone Integration is offered as standard, and is now thankfully compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s one of the best infotainment system’s on the market and coupled with the fact it’s not only comfortable and spacious but upmarket the interior is hard to fault. 

Offered for the first time on the BMW 5 Series the Remote Software Upgrade functionality keeps the vehicle up-to-date with the latest software. All updates can be imported over the air, either on a smartphone via BMW Connected or directly into the car using its built-in SIM card.

As part of Driving Assistant Professional, updates to Steering and Lane Control Assistants are included. This in turn introduces Active Navigation, which is able to spot in advance when a lane change will be required and then performed using the Lane Change Assistant. 

The newly standard Parking Assistant’s range of functions has been extended too, with the addition of the reversing assistant, which takes control of the steering while reversing for distances of up to 50 metres. When coupled with Parking Assistant Plus, the new Drive Recorder option uses in-built cameras to record video footage from different points around the vehicle, before storing the recordings. They can be up to 40 seconds in length, comprising the 20 seconds of video saved prior to the Drive Recorder being activated and the next 20 seconds. In the event of a collision, it will automatically record and save.

Now featuring five plug-in hybrid models

With an increase from two to five models featuring innovative plug-in hybrid drive, the new 5 Series now offers the largest range of PHEVs within one BMW Group model series.

The latest generation of BMW eDrive technology in conjunction with a four-cylinder petrol engine powers the 530e plug-in hybrid models and July 2020 saw the launch of the new Saloon (with 292hp, 310lb ft of torque, fuel economy of 202-157mpg and CO2 emissions of 31-41g/km) and xDrive variant with a slightly lower top speed of 143mph (compared to 146mph), but the same 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions suffer slightly returning between 177-135mpg and 37-48g/km respectively.

In November the 530e Touring was launched together with an xDrive variant. Both can sprint from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds before going on to a top speed of 140mph, but the all-wheel drive has slightly more torque producing 317lb ft vs 310. Fuel economy for both models is 188-166mpg and 157-141 respectively, while CO2 emissions are 35-38g/km and 41-45.

Top of the range is the new 545e xDrive Saloon which pairs a six-cylinder petrol engine with the electric motor, together generating an overall output of 394hp. Maximum system torque is 443lb ft and top speed is 155mph, which is restricted to 87mph in pure electric mode. It accelerates from zero to 62mph in 4.6 seconds and returns around 166 to 128mpg with CO2 emissions of 39 to 50g/km.

What’s unique to the 530e xDrive M Sport Saloon?

Sportier body styling courtesy of BMW’s M aerodynamics package, high gloss Shadowline exterior trim and unique alloy wheel designs in 18” and 19” sizes. Inside, there’s an M Sport leather steering wheel and front sports seats, plus different finishes for some of the trim details and instrument panel. Despite the extra expense M Sport trim is very popular in the UK.  

Just like every 5 Series preceding it, the latest and seventh generation is fun to drive and agile through the bends, especially for its size, but smooth and stable in a straight line, while the steering is well-weighted and accurate. The xDrive variant is of course four-wheel drive and as a result has better traction in the wet than its rear-wheel siblings.

What about range?

The only downside to the all-wheel-drive version is the sacrifice to range – offering 33 as opposed to 37, but if you’re careful the 530 e can be driven for around 30 miles on electric power alone, which is probably more than enough for most.  

Should I buy one?

The BMW 5 Series is a great all-rounder – offering space, tech, refinement, performance and handling finesse. In 530e form it’s economical, cheap to run providing you plug in regularly, and thanks to low Benefit-in-Kind ratings, it will no doubt prove popular with company car users. It’s still the go-to premium executive saloon (with the price tag to match), and the updates give it a competitive edge over its rival Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class plug-in variants. Overall the 530e impresses with its punchy performance and low running costs, better still it’s one of the greenest plug-ins in the executive class.

Key Specs

2020 530e xDrive M Sport Saloon

Price: £52,325
Top Speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 5.9 seconds
Power: 292hp
Torque: 310lb ft
Driving range: 33 miles
C02 emissions: 37-48g/km
Fuel consumption: 177-134mpg
Home charging: 2.6 hours (based on a current of 16A, 0-80%)
Insurance group: 38E
Manufacturers’ warranty: 3 years
Battery warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles

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